GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County may soon be looking at a future where stone and dirt roads become part of an information highway.
Gallia Commissioners approved grant application proposals from Gallia Engineer Brett Boothe Thursday in the Gallia Courthouse aimed at gathering funding to pave the rest of Gallia’s gravel and dirt county roads and to potentially turn parts of US 35, and a few other roads, into a “smart” corridor.
Boothe said the application process for a pair of federal grants he intends to bring to Gallia is “pretty intense.” The engineer aims to make use of federal BUILD program funds. He said he has had favorable conversations with the Ohio Department of Transportation and area internet service companies looking at potential partnerships in infrastructure development, pending grant approval.
“The first project that we’re proposing is mainly on our state routes, ” said Boothe. “We’re proposing developing the interchange from where it is right now on Harrisburg Road. We currently have a bridge there, but we don’t have on and off ramp access. In the process of developing that interchange, we’re going to expand the current rest area into a smart truck center.”
Boothe’s smart truck center, ideally, would have electric charging stations.
“The second part of that (the same grant proposal) is completing Farm Road and tying into where Farm Road is existing and running that into the City of Gallipolis and trying to make something that’s limited access with access management to allow for access to (city locations) and be able to have somewhat of a bypass for people to take some congestion off Eastern Avenue,” said Boothe. “Ultimately, that helps business. You want people driving by but at congestion peaks, you start losing money.”
According to information provided by the engineer, along with the Farm Road tie-in to Gallipolis, the project proposal includes “installing fiber optics to provide a two-lane testing route for the Ohio autonomous vehicle project along the same US 35/Bob Evans Highway/Farm Road bypass route.”
Boothe feels these areas provide for “innovative public and private” partnership opportunities to install electric charging stations for over-the-road trucks and passenger vehicles and for the installation of fiber optics along area roads. The engineer said this could improve the “high-tech industrial development and trucking industry expansion” of the region. The project is estimated to cost around $29 million to complete.
The second grant Boothe seeks to attain would allow for the paving of 130 miles of county stone and dirt roads. The engineer believes this would improve economic development in the area as well as emergency response times. Such a project is estimated to cost around $27 million to complete.
According to Boothe, he is allowed to apply for up to $25 million in grant funds for each project, totaling around a possible $50 million to be brought to Gallia’s economy, should the funding be approved.
Boothe proposes to put up one half million to two million dollars of local money in matching funds per projects as, he says, it would allow project proposals to score higher for approval.
Commissioners approved Boothe’s proposal, although they had questions as to the current state and future of self-driving vehicles. Commissioner Harold Montgomery said he was interested in seeing whether township roads could also be paved with said funding.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.